The million-dollar question; what is the best way to lose weight working from home? The answer is probably going to disappoint you. Let me explain.
Ultimately, weight loss comes down to consuming fewer calories than we burn. There are certainly factors that can affect how many calories you need per day, such as your weight, activity levels, medications and some health conditions, however, weight loss still comes down to consuming fewer calories than we need per day.
There is no best way to lose weight working from home, as the best way is figuring out a way that works for you, but using a few main points to guide you. Thankfully, you don’t need to go keto, or low-carb, or use some “fat burner” pills that you saw on eBay that just contain a bunch of caffeine.
Let’s run through some main points to help you with losing weight while working from home.
1. Understand Your “Why”
This one might sound a bit cheesy, but with anything in life that requires a bit of effort, it’s important to really understand why it is that you’re doing it, otherwise it makes it far too easy to give up when things get a little tough.
For example, you might start off with a goal of “I want to lose weight”, but you’ve probably never really thought about why.
To understand this more clearly, we can use the “5 whys” technique, which involves sounding like an irritating 4-year-old, but to yourself.
You may start with a statement like “I want to lose weight”
Why? Because I want to feel healthier, fitter and more confident.
Why is that important? Because I want to be able to do more activities that I used to, but can no longer do or struggle to do because of my weight and health, which will improve my confidence and self-image.
Why is that important? Because I want to enjoy life more, be more sociable while improving my health and wellbeing at the same time.
Why is that important? Because I want to live a long, healthy life to the best of my ability and not be restricted by my health, fitness or lack of confidence.
Why is that important? Because overall, losing weight would help me become a healthier, fitter and more confident version of the person I am now. It’ll allow me to be more active, have more energy, be more sociable, and to live a longer life that isn’t restricted by my health.
The 5 whys. There are endless ways that someone could answer their 5 whys, but they really help to dig a little bit deeper into your true motivations, and in many cases actually help to reveal your deeper motivations that maybe you didn’t even know were there!
Understanding your true reason(s) why you want to do this is only going to help you, especially during those times when you feel like throwing in the towel and giving in.
2. Calories are King
If you take anything away from this post, let it be the understanding that in order to lose weight, we must consume fewer calories than we need per day. I hear it all the time:
“I eat healthy, balanced meals, I can’t understand why my weight isn’t coming down!”
“I eat fresh, home-cooked meals, why isn’t my weight coming down?”
“I go to the gym 5 days a week, but my weight isn’t budging, there must be something wrong with me!”
Ultimately, if you are consuming the same, or more calories than you burn each day, you will not lose weight, and depending on many factors, the amount of calories you need per day will vary. This is based on things such as your gender, muscle mass, and arguably most importantly, your activity levels, which, if you work from home, are likely to have taken a dip since doing so.
The first step in weight loss is understanding the role of calories. You absolutely do not have to count calories, but it’s important to understand that if your weight isn’t coming down, then you are not in a calorie deficit. The next step is figuring out how you can make changes to create a calorie deficit, which leads on to our next point.
3. Food Choice Matters!
If someone needed 2000 calories per day to maintain their weight, then technically, if they consumed 1500 calories a day of sweets, crisps, biscuits and chocolate, they would lose weight.
How they would feel doing that is another thing entirely. Lethargic, tired, lacking in energy, hungry all the time, and so on.
Compare that to someone having regular, balanced, nutritious and filling meals with occasional snacks. The second person is going to feel infinitely better.
I’m absolutely not telling you that you need to cut out your favourite snacks, or that pizza you might have on a Friday night, but overall, if you’re going for foods that aren’t filling and don’t provide you with much nutrition, weight loss is going to be bloody tough. As if it isn’t hard enough already.
4. Portion Sizes
An obvious one, but often one that people overlook if they “eat healthy” or “eat clean” or “don’t eat cake or crisps or biscuits or sweets or bread” (or whatever you want to add in there!).
It often comes as a surprising reminder to people: Healthy foods still contain energy, and you CAN over-consume them.
If someone needed 2000 calories per day and they were eating 2500 calories of healthy, balanced meals each day full of fresh vegetables and lean meats, then from a weight loss point of view, it’s still 2500 calories. Yes, it’s nutritious. Yes, it’s filling. Yes, it’s good for your health.
But still, from a weight loss point of view, it’s still overconsuming on calories. Portion sizes are often a great place to start for most people looking to lose weight. You can use smaller bowls or plates, you can weigh your foods if you want to be more accurate, or you can simply guess and hope for the best (the not-so-recommended approach).
Most people think their portions are fine, however, everyone’s definition of a “normal” portion is wildly different. If trying to have smaller portions, aim to wait 15-20 minutes after finishing it to decide whether you’re still hungry or not, as it usually takes around this long for our stomach to tell our brain that we’ve eaten and we’re now satisfied.
5. Physical Activity and Adjusting Your Intake
Working from home and physical activity don’t often go together very well. There’s not as much getting ready in the morning, there’s no office commute, no walk into the office, no walking to the toilet 11 times a day because you drank your body weight in tea. Essentially, we tend to move a lot less when working from home.
When working from home, physical activity now has to be something you actively plan to do, as any that you might’ve been doing before when going into an office, is no longer there. As such, it can often be forgotten about or left until “later”, kind of like those pans that “need” to soak until the morning.
One thing I hear a lot, is how so many people I speak with gained a lot of weight since working from home, be it before or because of the pandemic. One thing many people have in common is their increase in snacking, but also their decrease in physical activity.
For example, if someone was previously maintaining their weight at around 2500 calories per day, but they then begin working from home and are now moving significantly less each day. That person might then only need 2200 calories per day to maintain their weight, but they’re still eating the same as before, or in many cases, eating a bit more. In this instance, this person would now be in a calorie surplus of 300 calories per day, as they only need 2200, but are consuming around 2500 calories per day because, well, that’s what they’ve always done.
If this person overconsumed by 300 calories per day, this would result in gradual weight gain over time as some of those extra calories would be stored as fat. This person hasn’t changed their dietary intake, but has changed their physical activity level resulting in less calories burned per day.
To summarise, becoming less active but still eating the same as before is a recipe for weight gain.
Aim, where possible, to include some activity across your week. Ideally daily. There are a ton of health benefits to being more active, and I always try to discourage people from thinking of exercise as just something you do to burn calories; it is so much more. But it certainly can help with weight loss and creating that calorie deficit.
Weight loss is hugely overcomplicated. People often overlook the most basic parts of our diet and lifestyle because we believe that there’s some huge secret to weight loss that’s hidden in a book, or a diet pill on the internet. Ultimately, weight loss comes down to consistently consuming fewer calories than your body needs per day. Sounds easy, but it’s how to do that which often stops people in their tracks. Yes, you can “eat less and move more”, but what does that look like in reality? What changes does that mean you have to make to make that happen?
Weight loss doesn’t need to involve eating foods and doing exercise you don’t enjoy, which is what we often think we need to do.
Focusing on the points above regarding your diet and activity is an essential starting point, which you adjust as necessary based on your results. This is an active process, you can’t just wing it, it takes some reflection on your part if things aren’t going to plan so you can try and figure out what your next steps are.
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